the education problem and its bearing on the claims of the Church," The Catholic Herald!' has asked an expert to give a brief survey of the position and his own views about what should be done. We understand that the views here expressed are in general harmony with those of an increasing number of Catholic authorities responsible for the direction of this vital question. We shall be glad to offer the hospitality of our columns for the useful discussion of propositions here made.—Editor C.H.
THE A B C OF THE EDUCATION PROBLEM TO-DAY Is there a Catholic Plane?
nW LNG to the Reformation, the
active tradition of public education on Christian lines survived mainly in the Church of England. The result of this was that about seventy years ago the vast majority 'of the schools io our country were Church of
England schools. Catholics in fact had long been persecuted and kept from knowledge: they had been forbidden the universities: few Catholics were COrnpeter) t to give it secular education for the working man's child.
It is, therefore, greatly to our crqdit that since then Catholic schools have been established in such numbers. There are 1,200 of them, every one filltil very recently indeed) built front the charitable contributions of Cathafic ordinary folk.
But for at least atm past seventy years the State has been taking a meat interest in the education of the young, and many schools in up-to-date buildings have been established by the Government. These ale called Council schools. All their expenses are met by the local estimation authority (borough or county). to addition. many preexisting schools applied for Government assistance or actually asked the Ciovemment to take over the management of (heir schools.
Many Free Church and some Church of England' schools became Council schools in this way : but most Church of England and all Catholic sehools coetinue to face their own financial problems as regards housing and a certain amount of equipment. while the salaries of the teachers are paid in full by the local authority. Bodies of governors (usually the parish priest and perhaps an advisory council) appoint the. staff Such schools are called voluntary schools, and the scheme for their maintenance side by side with the Council schools is called the Dual
TIO TIO A UATED BUILDINGS But, unfortunately. most of the buildings housing voluntary schools are antiquated and have been in many cases condemned, Necessary reorganisation of children into more suitable agegroups for efficient education (as under the Hadow Scheme and the Education Act of 19361 have been held up because the Church school bodies have not been able to find the motley. Besides, some boards of voluntary school governors are stated by a great many who have had dealings with them to he unsuited for the taSk either of choosing staff efficiently or of directing the running of Church schools and their relation to the local education authority. Rather more than half the schools ins the country are still voluntary schools, so there has been a good deal of official acceptance of their sesvisnes.
Untostunately, however. 'es Council schools get bigger, better and more DUMel-OUS. Church schools tend to suffer by comparison. Teachers' unions and associations, and oho local education authorities in sessions believe that the Church schools as they now stand are a stumbling block to educational progress—not because ul reactionary ideas (for at last there is a Conviction that religion is the basis of life and culture) but because regrouping according to age and according to the requirements of training is practically hapossible as long as voluntary schools stand aloof.
Our aloofness is largely doe to shortage of means, to the dilatory attitude of many Catholic hoards of governors, and to the unreformed state of many Cathotic teachers and parents. The Government has long been awaiting suggestions from responsible Catholic educationists, but none (till recently) has been forthcoming -and even now tin official line has been suggested.
NO CATHOLIC ATTITUDE This really nseans that, although one or two leaders such as the Bishop of Pella have lent their prestige to the suggestions they have made, there is no Catholic attitude we can point to. It
strikes ore, therefore, as • a timely measure to sum up what Catholics have been saying and thinking (particularly go-ahead Catholic teachers and lay Catholic men-of-the-world). It is being deplored that, when so much has been in fact done. more has not been done to make our educational contribation obviously so impoutant to the nation's life that the nation Must know its full worth. It is acknowledged that our schools are often antiquated and must be hr ought in line. so that Catholic children instead of being at a disadvantage shall appreciate the full athantage of Catholicism and spread abroad its worth in the world by their living personal example as ftont-iine and welleducated citizens.
The local boards of managers are far from ideal, generally speaking, for appointing stalls or directing the " foreign. policy " or our schools. Outspoken Labour leaders (to give one example) should not be excluded from appointment or cold-shouldered as dangerous. Catholic laity should be given equal consultative powers on a Catholic Education Council, and Catholic layfolk should 1-tecome headmasters and headmistresses. In this way Catholics will become from-line estimators and not Randy cuntemptueusly referred to iLS maintaining it second-rate education for sectarian purposes.
What would we say if the Communist party maintained schools such as many of ours are for the effective dissemination of their views on life?
WHAT WE CAN GIVE With segard to the proposed Government reforms of our educational system. let us welcome the abolition of the ',Feu' n1 Dual System. I Let us ask or Government-construetes1 schools for Catholics, maintained in efficient staff and apparatus by the State, the staff being appointed tisst and foremost for their efficiency as educators judged by any practical standard. Let us have the Goverronent inspecting every school.
What do • we give in return? We give a guarantee (which should be easy) that in our schools children will be manifestly trained on a sound moral basis to be good citizens, morally. mentally and physically.
If we believe in the worth of what we teach, how can we boggle at this? The spirit of religion should be the ,leaven of our schools, and not something hindering the spread of true knowledge and development in all directions. For, provided a guarantee is forthcoming from the State not to appoint persons to Catholic schools who are antagonistic to our Faith, or not agreeable to the bishops, the State Is entitled to ensure efficiency, equality and perfect freedom of education for all who can profit by it. And is this not the true (though often obscured) tradition of Catholicism?